Keep You Safe And Warm.
Conrad was startled out of his studies when, from one of the windows of the library, he saw Wolfram sniffling and rubbing his eyes with small hands, half crouching near one of the castle's pillars.
Barely remembering not to bolt out of the library (Günther had, after all, reprimanded him enough about that), Conrad did move as quickly as possible out of it and, once outside, rushed to his brother's side, worry thick and unpleasant over his throat.
"Wolfram?" He immediately kneeled by his brother's side, trying to check for any injury he might had, but Wolfram refused to turn towards him, instead facing more of the pillar, still sniffling. "Wolfram, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"
"B-big brother…" Conrad's worry immediately turned to Gwendal, trying to remember his older brother's schedule for the day. Maryoku practice? Could there have been an accident? Had he been sent to check upon the borders?
He took a deep breath, resting a hand over Wolfram's back as he still tried to make the young boy turn towards him, also trying to keep his voice from showing anything but concern. "Wolfram, please, tell me what's wrong."
Wolfram sniffled and turned a little towards him, eyes downcast. He was still crying, fat tears rolling down his face. There was a slight redness over his eyes and Conrad immediately gathered the boy in his arms, pressing a soft kiss against his forehead.
"B-big brother… he scolded me 'cause I got inside h-his room… a-and he said h-he didn't ha-have time for me…"
Conrad released the breath he had been holding slowly, trying not to sound annoyed. It was a relief that Gwendal wasn't hurt, even if he had worried after Wolfram's reaction.
"Wolfram… we've talked about this before."
At his words, however, Wolfram pushed away from him, anger and hurt clear over his eyes.
"You're both always busy!" Wolfram sniffled again, green eyes filled with loneliness and misery. His lower lip quivered again, and more tears spilled from his eyes, even though Wolfram tried to wipe them away with his hands. "Nor big brother nor you have time to be with me!"
Conrad felt the guilt and worry come back with a vengeance. He could, of course, explain to Wolfram the same words he had no doubt Gwendal had told him: that they had obligations, studies, responsibilities… which, for a kid of Wolfram's age, would simply translate as if they didn't care about him or, worse, that he wasn't as important for them as their other obligations.
Conrad rubbed his hand softly over Wolfram's small back, trying to gather the boy in his arms again, even if at first Wolfram was tense and tried to fight it. In the end, his brother pressed his face against his neck, sniffling softly, small hands clinging to him and Conrad couldn't help but think that in the last weeks he hadn't really spent much time with Wolfram. Although this, of course, could be explained, he couldn't help but think that, seeing his brother's distress, the reasons sounded more like excuses.
Now, of course, he was presented with a choice: If he went with Wolfram, he would probably have to stay up longer than he should to finish his studies on time, and thus risk doing poorly the next day. On the other hand, he could always go back to his studies, leaving his younger brother feeling unloved and lonely.
There was no question, really.
"I'm sorry, Wolfram. You're right, I've been neglecting you." Conrad said softly, cupping his brother's face and lifting it from the crook of his neck and shoulder, taking out his handkerchief to gently wipe the tears away. He smiled softly, leaning to kiss Wolfram's forehead again. At least now Wolfram was just pouting, which always translated into Wolfram wanting to be cuddled and, more importantly, that he wanted attention. "Can you forgive big brother and me? I'm sure he is as sorry as I am."
Wolfram was definitely pushing his pout right now, which meant he was on the verge of forgiving him. Conrad stopped his smile from widening, and instead waited for his brother. Wolfram gave a soft, accusative sniffle. "…are you going back to study?"
He shook his head. "Not right now. I thought we could spend the afternoon together, if you want."
Wolfram measured him for a moment, green eyes narrowed before the blond boy rubbed his face with his forearm, quickly smiling and taking his hand, pulling him towards his room.
"C'mon! I wanna play pirates and conquerors!"
Conrad laughed, letting himself be lead by Wolfram. "This means I'm forgiven?"
When Wolfram had fallen to bed, completely exhausted (and Conrad felt the same exhaustion: he would never understand how a small child could make you more tired than normal sword practice) and demanded a story, Conrad had picked one of the longer ones to make sure that his very stubborn younger brother would fall asleep before they reached any of the good parts.
Just as he thought, they had barely started the quest of the brave knight when Wolfram was already deeply asleep, lips opened a bit and his hands curled next to his face.
Conrad didn't get a chance to close the book and move away, though. Just when he was finishing the page, voice barely above a whisper, the door to Wolfram's bedroom creaked open, Gwendal looking behind his shoulder as if he could have been followed.
Conrad was sure to keep a faint, calm smile when Gwendal was startled into discovering him there, keeping the same face when Gwendal cleared his throat, a faint blush on his face at having been discovered. "… I tried to finish as soon as possible."
Conrad smiled in acknowledgment, trying to keep his face as innocent as possible when from Gwendal's back a new knitted toy (some kind of bear, perhaps?) appeared and Gwendal softly pressed the toy into Wolfram's arms. The smile turned much softer when Wolfram immediately clung to the toy, rubbing his face against the soft fur, mumbling in his sleep.
They both looked towards their youngest brother for a moment, before Gwendal cleared his throat again. "I should go; there are a few things that still need to be taken care of."
Conrad gave a faint nod, before looking towards Gwendal again; he guessed that their older brother had wanted to apologize to Wolfram, seeing that neither of them could bear to see him cry. "Brother, would you finish the story? I'm afraid I'm a bit tired myself, and I promised Wolfram that we'd finish the story."
He told to himself it wasn't exactly a lie: Wolfram disliked having things such as stories unfinished, and he would most certainly demand for the same story to be read completely; and he knew that Gwendal also knew that. It would still be worth it if only for the way Gwendal's eyes softened as he nodded, taking the offered book as Conrad moved to lay down besides Wolfram, gently gathering the sleeping boy in his arms as he closed his eyes when Gwendal's voice restarted the story.